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Dealing with Time Machine

Time Machine is Apple's backup program. Its a great way to handle that routine maintenance chore that most people neglect. Combine that with the increasing popularity of external hard drives and you have a winning combination.

Excluding things

Unfortunately, Time Machine backs up everything. and I mean everything–like the operating system, the applications, external drives, thumb drives, and more. This can cause backups to be unnecessarily big, and can lead to filling up your backup drive faster than necessary.

One solution to this problem is to exclude things from the backup. I did it like this:

  1. Go into System Preferences–>Time Machine
  2. Click the Options button
  3. In the Do not back up list, click the + icon and add the following items (one at a time) to the list of things to exclude:
    • The Macintosh HD/System folder1) (because I already have a copy of my OS and applications on CD)
    • The downloads folder from my web browser
    • Ditto for several other programs
    • Any external drives that don't need to be backed up (like USB thumb drives)


One night I was searching for something, and I saw a document in my search results that I had deleted on purpose. After a little research, I found that Spotlight was indexing my backups!! So how do I remove my Time Machine drive from SpotLight? I found out, after much trial and error.

  1. Go into System Preferences–>Spotlight
  2. Click the Privacy tab
  3. In the Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations dialog, click the + icon and add the backup drive to the list.
1) when doing this, Time Machine prompted me whether I wanted to exclude the rest of the programs on my system even if they were outside the /System folder–I said yes
/home/cfreyer/public_html/data/pages/technology/dealing_with_time_machine.txt · Last modified: 2008/11/27 19:11 by Chris Freyer